GMC reinforces standards for medical students

MEDICAL students must understand the importance of patient confidentiality and behaving appropriately on social media among other professional values set out in new guidance from the GMC.

The GMC and the Medical Schools Council (MSC) have published Achieving good medical practice – a document for medical students outlining the standards and professional behaviour required before becoming a doctor after graduation.

The new guidance – based on GMC core standards in Good medical practice – comes with practical tips to help medical students apply the professional values to their studies, placements and time outside of medical school.

Medical students are required to recognise the limits of their competence and be honest when they don’t know something and ask for help when needed. They are also asked to raise concerns about the safety, dignity and comfort of patients and always protect patient identifiable information.

The document also provides guidance on the use of social media where students are free to express their views but must not behave in a derogatory manner to other users.

The guidance will come into force in September and an e-book version will follow in 2017.

An additional piece of guidance has been published by the GMC and MSC to help medical school and university staff to manage and support students whose professional behaviour or health becomes a cause for concern. Professional behaviour and fitness to practise is aimed at supporting medical school staff in delivering student fitness to practise processes.

Professor Terence Stephenson, Chairman of the General Medical Council, said: "University is an exciting time and we want medical students to enjoy themselves as they train to be doctors.

"However medical students differ from most other students. Their studies and placements will bring them into contact with patients and members of the public who may be physically and emotionally vulnerable. Because of this and to maintain the public’s high level of trust in doctors, they have to display higher standards of professional behaviour – both inside and outside of medical school.

"Of course medical students cannot become good doctors on their own. Their medical schools play a fundamental role in giving them the opportunities to learn, understand and practise the standards expected of them. Our new guidance will help them give the guidance, pastoral care and extra support which some of their students may need."

The launch of these new pieces of guidance follows a large-scale review of the existing, single piece of guidance from 2009 (Medical students: professional values and fitness to practise) and involved a formal consultation with a survey of 2,500 medical student and others.

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